How modding may be the future of gaming
The following screenshot is from the newly released Skyrim mod ‘Falskaar’ which has reportedly taken nearly two thousand hours to complete. The mod adds an entirely new region to the map, and consists of it’s unique soundtrack and voice actors. So who are the community behind such an impressive project? With the exception of a composer, voice actors, and two book writers, the mod was created start to finish by a single person. 19 year old Alexander J. Velicky spent a year working at home on the project, in hopes to acquire a job at Bethesda (the company behind Skyrim). In it’s short release time it has already been met with unanimous praise from gaming communities far and wide, by those both in and outside the field of modding.
The fact that a single person can create an entire new experience from their own home is a testament to the progress that has been made in terms of both modding, and in the gaming industry itself. By no means is this the first time a single person has gone through the effort of creating a mod by themselves, nor is it the first time that a free-to-share independent mod has been met with such popularity and support. However the fact that one person can create something to the standards of ‘Falskaar’ at all certainly deserves to be recognised.
The popularity and quality at which user-created content is generating is something that I believe is going to be an important asset to the gaming industry, and not one developers are going to view as just another secondary factor. Both single person and entire community projects have made a substantial impact over the last decade to the art-form, with the internet being the quintessential outlet for such works. It’s all too common nowadays for people to learn about, discuss, play and create video games all through the internet; the number of gamers who form communities nowadays it at an all-time high. So what does this mean for developers?
The industry itself, I believe, will be greatly affected by these communities of content creators, and have already began to allow their own projects to be open to the general public. One such example is the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality gaming apparatus.
Fifteen years ago the company would never have dreamed of releasing it as anything other than an offical gaming product complete with it’s own rage of games. Months ago it was funded as a donation-based, beta stage product; gamers who donated to the projects conception received a developer kit of the Oculus Rift. So far the community of gamers who have used the Rift have been tweaking it to create their own gaming experiences that are quite unlike anything else. The concept of true VR gameplay was a laughable concept back in the 90’s. Today, not only is it very much a reality, but one that has been created thanks to the gaming community itself.
With both software and hardware modders growing in numbers at a staggering rate, and one that will presumably continue to increase, it’s safe to say that modding is the future of gaming. A single person or group of people going out of their way to improve the gaming experience for themselves and others for non-profit was almost unimaginable during the early stages of the industry. Today, it is the norm, albeit still a relatively underground one. Yet just as the amount of people who play games has risen dramatically over the years, I believe the same is destined to repeat itself for modders. In order for gaming companies to solidify their foothold in the industry, the implementation of cooperation with their target audience will soon be paramount.